India extends support to protect the Antarctic environment
- Ministry of Earth Science announced that India has decided to extend support to protect the Antarctica environment.
- In a high-level ministerial meeting conducted last leaving, it was decided that India will also be co-sponsoring to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas.
- The minister said the two proposed MPAs are essential to regulate illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.
- Antarctica has been witnessing the rapid melting of ice sheets in recent times.
- It has the largest mass of ice in the world, holding around 60% of the world’s freshwater.
- If it all melted, global average sea levels would rise by 58 meters.
- Further, studies suggest that the 2021 ozone hole over the South Pole is already larger than Antarctica.
- This is the first time India has agreed to co-sponsor the proposal and join the league by the end of October 2021.
- Other co-sponsor countries include New Zealand, US, for the protection of the area around Antarctica.
- India’s decision to extend support and co-sponsor the MPA proposals is driven by its conservation and sustainable utilization principles and adhering to the global cooperation frameworks.
Decision to co-sponsor
- The proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPA) was given by European Union.
- The proposal was first put forth to the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in 2020 but could not reach a consensus at that time.
- The motive behind the EU’s proposal was to answer the threat posed due to climate change and biodiversity loss.
- The high-level ministerial meeting was hosted virtually by Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, EU.
- The meeting was attended by Ministers, Ambassadors, and Country Commissioners from nearly 18 countries.
- The meeting aimed to increase the number of co-sponsors of the MPA proposals and reflect on a joint strategy and future actions for their swift adoption by the Commission for the CCAMLR.
- India joins countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA, which are also proactively considering supporting the MPA proposals.
Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
- CCAMLR is an international treaty to manage Antarctic fisheries to preserve species diversity and stability of the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem.
- It came into existence in April 1982 and India has been a permanent member of the CCAMLR since 1986.
- Work-related to the CCAMLR is coordinated in India by the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Marine Protected Area
- A Marine Protected Area or MPA is a designated area that provides protection to all or part of its natural resources.
- Certain activities within an MPA are limited or prohibited to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring, or fisheries management objectives.
- Since 2009, CCAMLR members have developed proposals for MPAs for various regions of the Southern Ocean.
- CCAMLR’s scientific committee examines these proposals.
- After CCAMLR members agree upon them, elaborate conservation measures are set out by CCAMLR.